Red Wings-Ducks: Do They HAVE to Play Game Six?

Greg Eno@@GregEnoSenior Analyst IMay 11, 2009

DETROIT - MAY 10:  Johan Franzen #93 of the Detroit Red Wings tries to get around Ryan Whitney #19 of the Anaheim Ducks during Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 10, 2009 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Remind me again: How was this ever a series to begin with?

How did we get to this point—the Red Wings only up 3-2 in this semifinals romp with the Anaheim Ducks?

Why is this not over with by now?

Yet there the series sits, the Red Wings forced to trudge all the away across the damn country to put the Ducks out of their misery, when it should all have been taken care of by now.

The Red Wings keep assailing the Ducks from every which way, wearing out the Anaheim side of the ice so much that they might as well Zamboni it every five minutes or so.

At least that way the Ducks could catch their breath.

It’s not just the very conspicuous discrepancy in shots on goal either. That’s just the tip of the iceberg—no pun intended.

The Red Wings seem to only let the Ducks have the puck when they’re tired of playing with it, which isn’t very often. No wonder the Ducks can’t get shots on net; they’re too tired to do anything with the puck once they’re lucky enough to find themselves in possession of it.

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Yes, the Ducks had some marvelous scoring chances in Sunday’s Game Five, which had the proper final score of 4-1—even though it didn’t get proper until the waning minutes.

Yes, Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood had to occasionally flip the mask down, grab his stick, put on his catching mitt, and make a save Sunday—and some good ones.

But the other goalie, Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller, is so keeping his teammates from being run out of the building that they ought to kiss his skates for being within 2-1 with four minutes to play on Sunday.

The Ducks are asking Hiller to win the series. The Red Wings are only asking Osgood to stay interested.

I wrote after Game Four’s shellacking, in which Hiller was rescued from further bombarding by coach Randy Carlyle, that it was now time for the Ducks to play some hockey and stop putting all their Duck eggs in the Hiller basket.

Yet they played, as defenseman Jim Wisniewski said, like it was “Game 38″—of the regular season.

It’s hard to tell if the Red Wings are just this good (they are) or if the Ducks called in all their markers against the San Jose Sharks in Round One (they did). So I guess it’s both.

Not a good combo for Anaheim.

The series forges ahead, into southern California, for a Game Six that probably shouldn’t be necessary, thanks to some whistle hijinks at the end of Game Three—a game the Red Wings likely would have won in overtime.

This is a 4-1 series masquerading poorly as a 3-2 one.

But those are the NHL playoffs for you.

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